How Robotics In NZ’s Primary Industries Could Double Productivity By 2025

Last night I attended a University of Waikato lecture entitled “Robotics in primary industries – the revolution begins!” presented by Professor Mike Duke.

Professor Mike Duke

It was fascinating!

Here are my notes on the talk:

The Goal

The NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has set the goal of doubling primary industry exports by 2025.

7 Key Challenges Slowing Growth In The Primary Industry

  1. Labour shortage
    • Very difficult to find locals interested in low-skill work so having to bring in immigrants
  2. Labour cost
    • Often have to pay agencies to source workers which adds to labour cost
  3. Labour legislation
    • Rules and regulations around working hours, conditions etc
  4. Quality control
    • Work often needs to be checked 2 or 3 times, lots of wastage, lack of care
  5. Labour reliability
    • Workers often don’t turn up
  6. Health and Safety
    • Increasing burden for compliance
  7. Obsolete machinery
    • Produces lower quality results

Can Robotics and Smart Automation Help Solve Some of these Issues?

A major component of primary industries is grading. Grading fruit for blemishes,  grading seedlings for suitability.

“Grading is not good use of human brainpower”.

We’ve been using robots in factories for years (eg the vehicle manufacturing industry)

But how do we move robots from factories to the fields?

Some of the challenges unique to outdoor robots dealing with plants:

  • Zero light control: Night and day, and dappled light in overhead canopies is problematic for light sensors and cameras
  • Rain
  • Huge variation in foliage structure
  • Slopping ground, difficult terrain

4 Examples of Primary Industry Robots

Here are 4 examples of robots built, or in development, by the university and it’s partners.

Robotic Example #1: The robot that punches precision holes for seedlings

The problem:

  • In a nursery, an antiquated machine with a spiked wheel was being used to punch holes in the soil
  • The problem is that the spike makes a ragged hole, and when the seedling starts to grow it adapts to the shape of the whole and often grows crooked

The robotic solution:

  • The team created a robot that rolls along and punches precision holes

The result:

  • The robot (based in Tokoroa), has created 20 million precision holes in the last 4 years

Robotic Example #2: The robot that picks and grades seedlings

The problem:

  • Once the seedlings are ready for picking and sending to the clients, the process is tedious, and time consuming

The robotic solution:

  • The team created a robot that rolls along and picks out the seedlings, knocks off the dirt, trims off some of the longer roots, and passes the roots under a camera to assess it’s quality and suitability for the client, and packs the seedling into a box

The result:

  • The robot can lift 100,000 trees a day

Robotic Example #3: The robot that hunts down Asparagus stalks

The problem:

  • Asparagus is only ready to be picked when it has reached a certain height
  • The fields are large and would require 100’s of kilometres of walking per day for a single person so often need teams of dozens or up to 80 people
  • Picking asparagus is a back-breaking job that harvests one stalk at a time

The robotic solution:

  • The team is working on a robot that uses LIDAR to detect asparagus in the field that has reached the right height, navigate to these stalks, cut them and place them in a tray
  • 10 robots like this could move around night and day

Robotic Example #4: The robot that picks Kiwifruit and pollinates flowers

The problem:

  • Harvesting kiwifruit is time sensitive and labour intensive. It’s hard work reaching up into the canopy
  • Bee’s don’t like kiwifruit flowers much so they often need to be pollinated by hand with a spray bottle of very expensive pollen

The robotic solution:

  • The team has developed a robot car with a platform that can host a wide range of robotic devices on top of it
  • One such robotic device is a system of 4 robot arms that can pick a kiwifruit every second
  • Another such robotic device is a pollination machine that can pollinate 20,000 flowers in a single row of kiwifruit in a few minutes
The robotic, self-driving platform
This RoboticsPlus kiwifruit picking robot can pick a kiwifruit every second

Additional applications include:

  • The identification, and targeted eradication, of individual pest insects
  • The pollination of just the flowers that the harvesting robot can reach easily in a few months (instead of 20% of the crop being out of reach for the harvesting robot)
  • Counting pests or diseases (stink bugs, murtle rust) and tag their location or eradicate them
  • The identification and eradication of individual weeds

A New Export For New Zealand

Exporting our produce is one thing, but exporting robots like these is a whole new service category for New Zealand.

Watch The Presentation Yourself

You can watch the 45 minute presentation yourself on YouTube, which was recorded a few weeks earlier for a different audience but with almost identical content:

Your Thoughts?

Do you think the goal is achievable with the help of robots like these?

Are we doing enough to prepare our children for working in industries like these in the near future?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Have you ever read a book and felt it rewiring your brain?

This is one of those books.

(This is actually the first of a pair of books. The sequel is called Homo Deus which looks at the future).

My whole adult life I’ve had a conflict between my Christian beliefs and my interest in science when it comes to the origin of humanity (and all life on this planet). This book nudged me one step closer to the explanations provided by science.

This book tackles the big questions:

  • Was the universe and humanity created by God?
  • Or, have humans, and all life on this planet, evolved over millions/billions of years? And if so, what is the evidence?
  • What is the purpose of humanity?
  • Why is all life driven to survive and thrive?
  • Were religions created by people to help us co-operate better?

I found a summary much better than one I could have written by James Clear on his blog: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, summary written by James Clear.

So I have copied James Clear’s notes below, but first, here are 5 ideas that really stood out to me.

My 5 Favourite Ideas From Sapiens

  1. That instead of domesticating wheat, wheat domesticated us, and has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the planet
  2. That our human ability to share “myths” has helped us take over the planet.
    • The most important of those myth’s is money. We all agree to believe that pieces of paper or numbers in an account have value. Using money as a basis, complete strangers can exchange value with each-other and grow the economy
    • Another myth are nations. Nation’s don’t physically exist like a mountain or a lake does, but we name countries and believe they exist
    • Another example is companies. They are legal fictions but they have the power to influence everything that physically exists in the world
  3. I was fascinated by the story of how Australia’s ancient giant mammals (eg 3 ton wombat, the 3m tall kangaroo, the 3m tall flightless thunder bird) were all wiped out within a short time of the first humans arriving on that landmass. They didn’t have a chance to evolve a fear of humans so that was the end of them
  4. Humanity became increasingly dependent on the agricultural revolution and even though it fed more and more people, nutrition levels actually dropped
  5. A review of history has shown that humanity is moving relentlessly toward unity (despite what the media might make you think). The whole planet is moving toward one world culture.

Want to read it yourself? Buy it from Amazon.

Yuval Noah Harari’s 2015 TED Talk

Yuval’s TED Talk provides a very brief 15 minute summary of Sapiens (and a 2 minute intro to the sequel: Homo Deus).

Jame’s Clear’s Notes on Sapiens

The Book in Three Sentences

Human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago).

These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics).

These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.

Sapiens summary

This is my book summary of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. My notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts. This summary also includes key lessons and important passages from the book.

  • Human cultures began to take shape about 70,000 years ago.
  • There have been three major revolutions in human history: the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, and the scientific revolution.
  • Prehistoric humans (2 million years old or so) were no more important and impressive than other mammals.
  • Homo Sapiens means “wise man.”
  • Humans first evolved in Africa about 2.5 million years ago.
  • The author believes it is unlikely Homo sapiens will survive for another 1,000 years.
  • From about 2 million years ago until 10,000 years ago, multiple human species roamed the earth together. The depiction of man evolving from hunched over to upright incorrectly displays human evolution as a linear trajectory. In fact, the species lived simultaneously.
  • Humans have huge brains for their body size.
  • Human brains account for 2-3 percent of body size, but use 25 percent of energy.
  • Human kind was very much in the middle of the food chain until 400,000 years ago and didn’t leap to the top of the food chain until 100,000 years ago.
  • Most animals at the top of the food chain made it there gradually over millions of years. Humans, however, jumped to the top relatively rapidly. This means that the rest of the food chain wasn’t ready and neither were we. Hence we feel anxious and stressed because we aren’t used to being at the top.
  • The advent of fire and cooking food may have opened the way for the evolution of a smaller intestinal track and a larger brain.
  • There are two theories of how Homo sapiens evolved: Interbreeding theory and Replacement theory. The reality is probably a combination of both theories.
  • Perhaps this is why Homo sapiens wiped out the Neanderthals: “They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.”
  • The last dwarf species of humans died out 12,000 years ago.
  • Homo sapiens conquered the world because of its unique language.
  • The Cognitive Revolution occurred between 70,000 to 30,000 years ago. It allowed Homo sapiens to communicate at a level never seen before in language.
  • As far as we know, only Homo sapiens can talk about things we have never seen, touched, or smelled. Think religions, myths, legends, and fantasies.
  • The telling of myths and stories allow Homo sapiens to collaborate in large numbers in extremely flexible ways.
  • This separates us from all other animals.
  • Chimps can’t form groups of more than 50 or so. For humans, the group size is usually 150 or so. Beyond that, you can’t rely on gossip and personal communication. You need something more to get large numbers of people working together.
  • Large numbers of people can collaborate by sharing common myths and beliefs.
  • In academic circles, stories are known as fictions, social constructs, or imagined realities.
  • An imagined reality is not a lie because the entire group believes it.
  • Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, humans have been living in a dual reality: the physical reality and the imagined reality.
  • The way people cooperate can be changed by changing the stories as myths we tell.
  • Because Homo sapiens shared myths were not genetically based, they could adapt and change their behavior as soon as they adapted their new belief. They didn’t have to wait millions of years for a genetic change.
  • Homo sapiens are the only animals that conduct trade.
    As far as we know, the humans of 30,000 years ago had the same physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities that we have today.
  • Evolutionary psychology claims that most of our psychology was developed during the period before the
  • Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 years ago.
  • The instinct to gorge on high calorie food is wired into our DNA.
  • Ever since the Agricultural Revolution, there hasn’t been one predominant way of life for all humans. There have only been options from a variety of cultures.
  • The dog was the first animal domesticated by humans around 15,000 years ago.
  • In ancient human groups (over 10,000 years ago) there was very little privacy, but also very little loneliness.
  • Most of our ancient ancestors had much wider and deeper knowledge of their physical surroundings than we do. They were not unintelligent at all.
  • The human collective today knows far more overall than the whole population of 15,000 years ago. However, at the individual level we are much more specialized today. Ancient foragers were the most knowledgable and skillful people in history.
  • It is far easier to pass “unremarkable” genes along today than it was 10,000 years ago.
  • Our lack of knowledge about prehistoric religions and beliefs is one of the biggest holes in our understanding of human history.
  • Humans traveling across the sea and landing in Australia was one of the most important expeditions in history.
  • It marked the moment humans cemented themselves at the top of the food chain.
  • Homo sapiens first made it to America about 16,000 years ago.
  • The settling of America – across the Siberian peninsula through Alaska into Canada and the United States down through Mexico and Central America into the Andes and the Amazon and all the way to the tip of South America – was one of the most rapid and incredible invasions by a single species the world had ever seen.
  • Incredibly, the Agricultural Revolution sprang up independently in many different parts of the world.
  • There is no evidence modern humans have become more intelligent with time.
    The Agricultural Revolution actually didn’t make the life of the average human better at first. It did, however, allow humans to collect more food per unit area and thus the overall population multiplied exponentially.
  • Fascinatingly, the first few thousand years of the Agricultural Revolution actually made life harder for humans by creating more work, less leisure, and a ballooning population that created more mouths to feed. Each individual generation didn’t see how their life was becoming worse because the small changes were so tiny.
  • One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people begin to enjoy new luxuries they tend to become expected and then count on them.
  • The evolutionary success of the Agricultural Revolution (greater population) was actually cause for much suffering on the individual level. Not just for humans, but for domesticated animals like cows, sheep, and chickens as well.
  • The advent of the Agricultural Revolution marked the time when worries of the future became prevalent: the weather, the crop yield this year, etc.
  • The myths that surround us and make up our lives dictate so much of what we believe and what we do.
  • Like the ancient Egyptians, most people dedicate their lives to building pyramids. It’s just that the names, shapes, and sizes of the pyramids change from one culture to another.
  • In order to change the imagined order, you must first find a group that believes in a current imagined order.
  • New myths must build upon or evolve from previous myths.
  • The main purpose of writing is to record numbers, which our brains did not evolve to manage well. Our brains are much better at remembering biological, zoological, and social information.
  • There is an ancient writing system used by the Incas known as a quipu. They are not written words at all, but a series of knots of different colors and strings that represent words and numbers.
  • Writing has actually changed the way humans think. We can use writing and record keeping to think far more categorically than ever before.
  • Numbers are the world’s most prevalent language.
  • Social hierarchies, inequality, and so on are human inventions.
  • Most rich people are rich because they were born into rich families. Most poor people are poor because they were born into poor families.
  • Unjust discrimination often gets worse, not better, with time.
  • As of 2006, there were still 53 countries where a husband could not be legally prosecuted for raping his wife.
  • When it comes to gender inequality: biology enables, culture forbids. The idea of “unnatural” behaviors is actually a result of Christian theology, not biology.
  • If it is possible biologically, then it is natural. From a scientific perspective, two men having sex is natural.
  • Traveling at the speed of light is not natural.
  • Why are men valued in many cultures more than women?
  • All human cultures are filled with inconsistencies. For example, America currently values individual freedom and equality. But these two ideals don’t always play nicely. It is part of the human experience to reconcile them.
  • These inconsistencies aren’t necessarily bad. They force us to think critically. Consistency is the playground of dull minds.
  • History is moving relentlessly toward unity. The whole planet is moving toward one world culture.
  • The creation of money was purely an intellectual revolution. It doesn’t exist except in our minds.
  • More than 90 percent of all money is just electronic data, not physical money.
  • Everyone always wants money precisely because everyone else always wants money.
  • Empires have been the world’s most common form of political organization for the last 2,500 years.
  • In general, empires do not fall because of uprisings. They almost always succumb to outside invasion or splits from within the empower class.
  • Most of what we firmly believe is part of “our culture” was actually forced upon us by other empires who conquered our ancestors.
  • Despite the obvious negatives of empires taking over a culture, there are many benefits too. Art, music, governance, and more are the result of empires forming. Often, they blended new together with the conquered people to create a new culture.
  • It seems obvious that we are moving fast toward a singe global empire. Global markets, global warming, and commonly accepted concepts like human rights make it clear we all need one collective entity, not man states and countries.
  • Religion is the third great unifier of humankind, alongside money and empires.
  • The Agricultural Revolution was accompanied by a Religious Revolution.
  • Interestingly, polytheism is more open and accepting of multiple beliefs even though we often look at it as more barbarian and uneducated than our current beliefs.
  • Monotheism seems to push away polytheism, but actually is very similar to polytheistic gods with the use of patron saints. Praying to the patron saints of farmers isn’t much different than praying to the god of rain.
  • The central tension with monotheism is how to deal with the fact that there is evil in the world while the omnipoten God is believed to be good and caring. If God is good why would he allow evil things to happen?
  • Even the rich and famous are rarely satisfied.
  • According to Buddhist tradition: the mind naturally craves more in all situations. And all suffering arrives from craving.
  • There are a variety of “natural law religions” that are popular today like communism, capitalism, and liberalism.
  • Over the last 200 years, science has increasingly revealed that human behavior is determined by hormones, genes, and neurological synapses. If this is true, then for how much longer will we ignore that biology does not agree with the concept of free will?
  • To describe how something happened means to reconstruct the series of specific events that led from one point to another.
  • To describe why something happened means to find causal connections that led to this particular series of events to the exclusion of all others.
  • The deeper your knowledge of a particular area of history, the harder it becomes to explain why one particular outcome occurred and not another.
  • It is an inevitable rule of history that what seems obvious in hindsight is impossible to predict beforehand.
  • The are level one and level two Chaotic Systems. Level one does not respond to predictions about it, like the weather and weather forecasts. Level two does respond to predictions about it, like the stock market and analyst reports about rising oil prices.
  • There is no proof that history is working for the benefit of humans or that human well being increases overtime. It’s good for the victors, but is it good for us all?
  • The Scientific Revolution started in Europe around 500 years ago. The last 500 years have witnessed an unprecedented growth of human impact.
  • One difference between religion and science is that science assumes humankind does not know the answers to many of life’s biggest questions. Religion, however, assumes that the important stuff is already known. Science assumes human ignorance.
  • Modern culture has been able to admit ignorance more than any previous culture.
  • Previous cultures and belief systems compiled their theories using stories. Science compiles its theories using mathematics.
  • The story of how Scottish Widows was founded is an awesome example of the power of probability.
  • Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility. Science gives us power. The more useful that power, the better the science.
  • The military arms race drives science forward in rapid fashion. The truth is war prompts many scientific discoveries.
  • In the past, the best minds of the day worked on finding ways to give meaning to death. Today, our best minds work on preventing death through biological, hormonal, and genetic means. Science does not take death as an inevitability.
  • The economic, religious, and political interests that impact the flow of money into scientific and technological research have a huge impact on the output of science.
  • It is not enough to consider science in a vacuum. Economic and capitalistic interests, for example, determine what we research and what to do with the research findings.
  • Why did Europeans discover and conquer the Americas? Why not the Chinese or those from India or the Middle East who possessed just as much knowledge and technology as the Europeans? The European ideology to explore the world was the primary difference.
  • For most of human history, per capita production remained the same. Since the launch of capitalism, however, per capita production has skyrocketed.
  • Modern capitalism has exploded the growth of humankind thanks to the creation of credit, which allows you to borrow money now because we collectively trust that the future will be better than the present.
  • Adam Smith’s brilliant insight about capitalism in The Wealth of Nations was that increasing private profits is the basis for increasing collective wealth and prosperity. In other words, by becoming richer you benefit everyone, not just yourself. Both parties get a bigger slice of pie. (Note: this only works if profits get reinvested, not hoarded.)
  • For capitalism to work, profits must be reinvested in new production.
  • The “religion” of capitalism says economic growth is the supreme because justice, freedom, and happiness requires economic growth.
  • All credit is based on the idea that science and technology will advance. Scientists ultimately foot the bill of capitalism.
  • The annual sugar intake of the average Englishman rose from nearly zero in the early 17th century to 18 pounds in the early 19th century.
  • The life expectancy, child mortality, and calorie intake are significantly improved for the average person in 2014 compared to 1914, despite exponential population growth.
  • Until the industrial revolution, human behavior was largely dictated by solar energy and plant growth. Day and night. Summer and winter. Everything was determined by man power and animal power, which were determined by food, which is determined by photosynthesis.
  • “This is the basic lesson of evolutionary psychology: a need shaped in the wild continues to be felt subjectively even if it is no longer really necessary for survival and reproduction.”
  • Harlow’s infant monkey studies from the 1950s (and a variety of followup studies) have shown that animals have strong psychological needs as well as purgative physical needs. Note to self: never disregard your psychological needs.
  • Each year the United States population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry in the rest of the world.
  • Most people don’t realize just how peaceful of the times are we live in.
  • In recent years, more people die from suicide each year than from war and violent crime. The same can said for car accidents.
  • Live a safe community, drive as little as possible, and love yourself. Violent local crime, car accidents, and suicide are some of the biggest killers of humans.
  • War is at an all time low because the costs of war have increased because of nuclear weapons, the benefits of war have decreased because physical resources drive less of the economy and international trade is more lucrative than conquest, and the tightening of international connections because a worldwide culture is less likely to battle itself.
  • Our view of the past is heavily influenced by recent events.
  • Researchers have investigated nearly all aspects of history, but have rarely have asked whether historical changes have made humans happier.
  • Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
  • If happiness is based on pleasurable feelings, then increasing our happiness is a matter of increases biochemical release. If happiness is based on meaning, then increasing our happiness is a matter of deluding ourselves about the meaning of our lives.
  • One uncommonly cited benefit of religion: belief in the afterlife gives meaning to your life in the present.
  • Buddhism has studied happiness for over 2,000 years. Interestingly, Buddhism shares many viewpoints on happiness with science. Most notably, that happiness results from processes within the body and not from the outside world.
  • The Buddhist philosophy of happiness centers around the idea that you are not the events that happen to you, but you are also not the feelings you have. You are not your feelings. They are just feelings. Thus, if you understand this, you can release the needs to keep chasing the need to feel happy or to not feel angry or to not feel sad. In other words, you have to understand yourself.
  • For close to 4 billion years, every organism developed according to evolution. But in recent decades, humans have begun to evolve according to intelligent design. In other words, there are people who would have been selected out of the gene pool millennia ago, but not today.
  • Genetic engineering is allowing humans to break the laws of natural selection.
  • The next stage of human history will not only involve biological and technological changes, but also changes in human consciousness and identity. Changes that are this fundamental will call the very term “human” into question.
  • Many people think the question we should ask to guide our scientific pursuits is, “What do we want to become?” However, because we seem to be on the path to genetically engineering and programming nearly every facets of our wants, desires, and consciousness, the real question we should ask is, “What do we want to want?”
  • In the past 1000 years, humans have evolved to take over the world and are on the verge of overcoming natural selection and becoming gods. Yet, we still seem unhappy in many ways and we are unsure of what we want. Is there anything more dangerous that dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?

The Sequel: Homo Deus

I actually read the sequel to this book, Homo Deus first. Sapiens looks back at the past, Homo Deus looks at the future and I found the ideas fascinating.

Your Thoughts?

Have you read the book? What did you get out of it? Have these notes inspired you to read it?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss

I’ve been a fan of Tim Ferris since the beginning when his first book 4-Hour Work Week caused me to quit my job. I own every book he’s written.

This book is a collection of his favourite moments from the 100’s of pod-cast interviews he’s done with “Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers”.

It’s also crammed full of recommendations for documentries and books, so after reading this book instead of my reading list being reduced by one, it has increased by 10.

The book is in 3 parts: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

Here are my favourite bits of “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Timothy Ferriss.

Part 1: HEALTHY

A very simple 10-second exercise. I tell the audience members to each identify two human beings in the room and just think, “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.

Everybody emerges from this exercise smiling, happier than 10 seconds before. This is the joy of loving-kindness.

During working hours or school hours, randomly identify two people who walk past you or who are standing or sitting around you. Secretly wish for them to be happy. Just think to yourself, “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.

I found myself wondering throughout the day, “Why am I so happy?” Part of the reason I think it’s so effective is that meditation is normally a very “me”-focused activity,

Part 2 WEALTHY

CHRIS SACCA

GO TO AS MANY HIGHER-LEVEL MEETINGS AS POSSIBLE

“Go to all the meetings you can, even if you’re not invited to them, and figure out how to be helpful. If people wonder why you’re there, just start taking notes.”

Chris was well known at Google for showing up to meetings with anyone, including the co-founders. Even if attendees looked at each other puzzled, Chris would sit down and let them know he’d be taking notes for them.

GOOD STORIES ALWAYS BEAT GOOD SPREADSHEETS

“Whether you are raising money, pitching your product to customers, selling the company, or recruiting employees, never forget that underneath all the math and the MBA bullshit talk, we are all still emotionally driven human beings. We want to attach ourselves to narratives. We don’t act because of equations. We follow our beliefs. We get behind leaders who stir our feelings.”

MARC ANDREESSEN

RAISE PRICES

It has become conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley that the way to succeed is to price your product as low as possible, under the theory that if it’s low-priced, everybody can buy it, and that’s how you get to volume,” he said. “And we just see over and over and over again people failing with that, because they get into a problem called ‘too hungry to eat.’ They don’t charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?

DEREK SIVERS

HOW TO THRIVE IN AN UNKNOWABLE FUTURE? CHOOSE THE PLAN WITH THE MOST OPTIONS. THE BEST PLAN IS THE ONE THAT LETS YOU CHANGE YOUR PLANS.

THE STANDARD PACE IS FOR CHUMPS

“I think you can graduate Berklee School of Music in two years instead of four. The standard pace is for chumps. The school has to organize its curricula around the lowest common denominator, so that almost no one is left out. They have to slow down, so everybody can catch up. But,’ he said, ‘you’re smarter than that.’ He said, ‘I think you could just buy the books for those, [skip the classes] and then contact the department head to take the final exam to get credit.”

TF: Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I’m “busy,” it is because I’ve made choices that put me in that position, so I’ve forbidden myself to reply to “How are you?” with “Busy.” I have no right to complain. Instead, if I’m too busy, it’s a cue to reexamine my systems and rules.

TAKE 45 MINUTES INSTEAD OF 43—IS YOUR RED FACE WORTH IT?

Why don’t I just chill? For once, I’m gonna go on the same bike ride, and I’m not going to be a complete snail, but I’ll go at half of my normal pace.’ I got on my bike, and it was just pleasant.

I was like, ‘Hey, a pelican!’ and he shit in my mouth.

I looked at my watch, and it said 45 minutes. I thought, ‘How the hell could that have been 45 minutes, as opposed to my usual 43? There’s no way.’ But it was right: 45 minutes. That was a profound lesson that changed the way I’ve approached my life ever since…. “We could do the math, [but] whatever, 93-something-percent of my huffing and puffing, and all that red face and all that stress was only for an extra 2 minutes. It was basically for nothing…. [So,] for life, I think of all of this maximization—getting the maximum dollar out of everything, the maximum out of every second, the maximum out of every minute—you don’t need to stress about any of this stuff.

What’s something you believe that other people think is crazy? “Oh, that’s easy. I’ve got a lot of unpopular opinions. I believe alcohol tastes bad, and so do olives. I’ve never tried coffee, but I don’t like the smell.

Ben Franklin’s excellent advice: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.

is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate. And this woman spent all day, every day doing what she loved.

REID HOFFMAN

QuestBridge supplies more exceptional low-in-come talent (i.e., kids) to top universities than all other nonprofits combined. QuestBridge has created a single standardized college application that’s accepted by more than 30 top universities like Stanford, MIT, Amherst, and Yale. This allows them to do some very innovative things, such as give away laptops and have the giveaway forms double as college applications. They then offer scholarships to many kids who could otherwise not even think of college. Did you know that roughly $3 billion available for scholarships goes wasted each year? It’s not a funding problem: It’s a sourcing problem.

“I have come to learn that part of the business strategy is to solve the simplest, easiest, and most valuable problem. And actually, in fact, part of doing strategy is to solve the easiest problem, so part of the reason why you work on software and bits is that atoms [physical products] are actually very difficult.

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”—Thomas Edison

PETER THIEL

How important is failure in business? “I think failure is massively overrated. Most businesses fail for more than one reason. So when a business fails, you often don’t learn anything at all because the failure was overdetermined.

“I think people actually do not learn very much from failure. I think it ends up being quite damaging and demoralizing to people in the long run, and my sense is that the death of every business is a tragedy.

What I prefer over trends is a sense of mission. That you are working on a unique problem that people are not solving elsewhere. “When Elon Musk started SpaceX, they set out the mission to go to Mars. You may agree or disagree with that as a mission statement, but it was a problem that was not going to be solved outside of SpaceX. All of the people working there knew that, and it motivated them tremendously.

So if I said that nobody should go to college, that might be hypocritical. But what I have said is that not everybody should do the same thing.

SETH GODIN

So the goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”

Seth has no comments on his blog, he doesn’t pay attention to analytics, and he doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook (except to rebroadcast his daily blog posts, which is automated). In a world of tool obsession and FOMO (fear of missing out) on the next social platform, Seth doesn’t appear to care. He simply focuses on putting out good and short daily posts, he ignores the rest, and he continues to thrive. There are no real rules, so make rules that work for you.

“I think we need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition.

James recommends the habit of writing down 10 ideas each morning in a waiter’s pad or tiny notebook. This exercise is for developing your “idea muscle” and confidence for creativity on demand, so regular practice is more important than the topics:

“I [then] divide my paper into two columns. On one column is the list of ideas. On the other column is the list of FIRST STEPS.

  • 10 old ideas I can make new
  • 10 ridiculous things I would invent (e.g., the smart toilet)
  • 10 books I can write (The Choose Yourself Guide to an Alternative Education, etc).
  • 10 business ideas for Google/Amazon/Twitter/etc.
  • 10 people I can send ideas to
  • 10 podcast ideas or videos I can shoot (e.g., Lunch with James, a video podcast where I just have lunch with people over Skype and we chat)
  • 10 industries where I can remove the middleman
  • 10 things I disagree with that everyone else assumes is religion (college, home ownership, voting, doctors, etc.)
  • 10 ways to take old posts of mine and make books out of them
  • 10 people I want to be friends with (then figure out the first step to contact them)
  • 10 things I learned yesterday
  • 10 things I can do differently today
  • 10 ways I can save time
  • 10 things I learned from X, where X is someone I’ve recently spoken with or read a book by or about. I’ve written posts on this about the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Steve Jobs, Charles Bukowski, the Dalai Lama, Superman, Freakonomics, etc.
  • 10 things I’m interested in getting better at (and then 10 ways I can get better at each one)
  • 10 things I was interested in as a kid that might be fun to explore now (Like, maybe I can write that “Son of Dr. Strange” comic I’ve always been planning. And now I need 10 plot ideas.)
  • 10 ways I might try to solve a problem I have This has saved me with the IRS countless times. Unfortunately, the Department of Motor Vehicles is impervious to my superpowers.

SCOTT ADAMS

Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort.

It could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking. develop that too.

You’d be hard-pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.

SHAUN WHITE

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout, The Law of the Category. When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category.

ALEX BLUMBERG

Prompts to Elicit Stories (Most Interviewers Are Weak at This)

  • “Tell me about a time when …”
  • “Tell me about the day [or moment or time] when …”
  • “Tell me the story of … [how you came to major in X, how you met so-and-so, etc.]”
  • “Tell me about the day you realized ___ …”
  • “What were the steps that got you to ___ ?”
  • “Describe the conversation when …

Follow-Up Questions When Something Interesting Comes Up, Perhaps in Passing

  • “How did that make you feel?”
  • “What do you make of that?

ED CATMULL

IF YOU CAN’T READ IT, TRY LISTENING TO IT

“My brain works differently. It turns out I am unable to read poetry…. Reading poetry, within a few seconds, shuts my brain down.

So this woman at a dinner said: ‘Don’t read it, listen to it.’ I bought the tape and I listened to it, and I found I was completely enthralled.

TRACY DINUNZIO

‘When you complain, nobody wants to help you,’ and it’s the simplest thing and so plainly spoken. Only he could really say that brutal, honest truth, but it’s true, right? If you spend your time focusing on the things that are wrong, and that’s what you express and project to people you know, you don’t become a source of growth for people, you become a source of destruction for people. That draws more destructiveness.

Book your A list for after your first 10 pitches.

PHIL LIBIN

And Bezos looks at me and goes, ‘Mars is stupid.’ And I say, ‘What?’ He says, ‘Once we get off of the planet, the last thing we want to do is go to another gravity.’ “Bezos said, ‘The whole point, the reason this is so hard to get off the earth, is to defeat gravity the first time. Once we do that, why would you want to go to Mars? We should just live on space stations and mine asteroids and everything is much better than being on Mars.

“Every single thing in your company breaks every time you roughly triple in size.”

“His hypothesis is that everything breaks at roughly these points of 3 and 10 [multiples of 3 and powers of 10]. And by ‘everything,’ it means everything: how you handle payroll, how you schedule meetings, what kind of communications you use, how you do budgeting, who actually makes decisions. Every implicit and explicit part of the company just changes significantly when it triples.

CHRIS YOUNG

His dad, a very successful entrepreneur, gave Chris advice when he was a freshman or sophomore in high school: “I distinctly remember him saying not to worry about what I was going to do because the job I was going to do hadn’t even been invented yet…. The interesting jobs are the ones that you make up

Don’t worry about what your job is going to be…. Do things that you’re interested in, and if you do them really well, you’re going to find a way to temper them with some good business opportunity.

One of the top 10 venture capitalists I know uses a variant of this litmus test as his measurement of “disruptive”: For each $1 of revenue you generate, can you cost an incumbent $5 to $10? If so, he’ll invest.

one of my favorite business-related PDFs floating around the Internet is “Valve: Handbook for New Employees

DAYMOND JOHN

“If you go out there and start making noise and making sales, people will find you. Sales cure all. You can talk about how great your business plan is and how well you are going to do. You can make up your own opinions, but you cannot make up your own facts. Sales cure all.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

That last Genghis Khan book has been recommended to me by several billionaires.

NOAH KAGAN

The book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman: “If you ever meet me in person, I have an extra copy because it’s just that amazing.

LUIS VON AHN

‘I don’t understand what you’re saying,’ and then I would try to find another way of saying it, and a whole hour would pass and I could not get past the first sentence.

This is basically just an act. Essentially, I was being unclear about what I was saying, and I did not fully understand what I was trying to explain to him. He was just drilling deeper and deeper and deeper until I realized, every time, that there was actually something I didn’t have clear in my mind. He really taught me to think deeply about things, and I think that’s something I have not forgotten.

Try experimenting with saying “I don’t understand. Can you explain that to me?” more often.

THE CANVAS STRATEGY

“Great men have almost always shown themselves as ready to obey as they afterwards proved able to command.” —Lord Mahon

Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you? The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.

That’s what the canvas strategy is about—helping yourself by helping others. Making a concerted effort to trade your short-term gratification for a longer-term payoff. Whereas everyone else wants to get credit and be “respected,” you can forget credit. You can forget it so hard that you’re glad when others get it instead of you—that was your aim, after all. Let the others take their credit on credit, while you defer and earn interest on the principal.

  • Maybe it’s coming up with ideas to hand over to your boss.
  • Find people, thinkers, up-and-comers to introduce to each other. Cross wires to create new sparks.
  • Find what nobody else wants to do and do it.
  • Find inefficiencies and waste and redundancies. Identify leaks and patches to free up resources for new areas.
  • Produce more than everyone else and give your ideas away.

SCOTT BELSKY

What do you believe that others think is insane? “It is essential to get lost and jam up your plans every now and then. It’s a source of creativity and perspective. The danger of maps, capable assistants, and planning is that you may end up living your life as planned. If you do, your potential cannot possibly exceed your expectations.

How has a “failure” set you up for later success? “The hardest decisions to make in business are those that disappoint people you care about.

“From this experience I learned what legendary writers call ‘killing your darlings’—the plot points and characters that detract from a novel. Sometimes you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most.”

“… young creative minds don’t need more ideas, they need to take more responsibility with the ideas they’ve already got.”

PETER DIAMANDIS

“THE BEST WAY TO BECOME A BILLIONAIRE IS TO HELP A BILLION PEOPLE.”

‘When you go after a moonshot—something that’s 10 times bigger, not 10% bigger—a number of things happen….’ “First of all, when you’re going 10% bigger, you’re competing against everybody. Everybody’s trying to go 10% bigger. When you’re trying to go 10 times bigger, you’re there by yourself.

when you are trying to go 10 times bigger, you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, and you approach the problem completely differently. I’ll give you my favorite example: Tesla. How did Elon start Tesla and build from scratch the safest, most extraordinary car, not even in America, but I think in the world? It’s by not having a legacy from the past to drag into the present. That’s important.

“Three to five billion new consumers are coming online in the next 6 years. Holy cow, that’s extraordinary. What do they need? What could you provide for them, because they represent tens of trillions of dollars coming into the global economy, and they also represent an amazing resource of innovation.

PETER’S LAWS

Peter has a set of rules that guide his life.

His 28 Peter’s Laws have been collected over decades.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Law 2: When given a choice … take both.
  • Law 3: Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
  • Law 6: When forced to compromise, ask for more.
  • Law 7: If you can’t win, change the rules.
  • Law 8: If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.
  • Law 11: “No” simply means begin again at one level higher.
  • Law 13: When in doubt: THINK.
  • Law 16: The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
  • Law 17: The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. (adopted from Alan Kay)
  • Law 19: You get what you incentivize.
  • Law 22: The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.
  • Law 26: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Money can always be regenerated. Time and reputation cannot.

GET THE LONG-TERM GOAL ON THE CALENDAR BEFORE THE SHORT-TERM PAIN HITS

Make commitments in a high-energy state so that you can’t back out when you’re in a low-energy state.

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms by John Gross because it contains the most brilliant one-liners in history.

Favorite documentaries

  • Catfish—“It’s a cliché, but it’s a brilliant, generation-defining documentary.”
  • To Be and to Have—“This is a beautiful and simple film about a one-room school in France, and what happens over the course of one year.”
  • The Overnighters—“This covers oil exploration in North Dakota, which has become perhaps bigger than the Gold Rush in the 1800s

The Road to No

  • If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say no. Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!”—then my answer is no.
  • My agenda became a list of everyone else’s agendas.
  • great creative work isn’t possible if you’re trying to piece together 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Large, uninterrupted blocks of time—3 to 5 hours
  • Life favors the specific ask and punishes the vague wish.
  • If I sleep poorly and have an early morning meeting, I’ll cancel the meeting
  • Making health #1 50% of the time doesn’t work. It’s absolutely all-or-nothing.

Are You Having a Breakdown or a Breakthrough? A Short How-To Guide

  • If you’re suffering from a feeling of overwhelm, it might be useful to ask yourself two questions: In the midst of overwhelm, is life not showing me exactly what I should subtract? Am I having a breakdown or a breakthrough?
  • For me, step one is always the same: Write down the 20% of activities and people causing 80% or more of your negative emotions. My step two is doing a “fear-setting” exercise on paper (here), in which I ask and answer, “What is really the worst that could happen if I stopped doing what I’m considering? And so what? How could I undo any damage?

To “fix” someone’s problem, you very often just need to empathically listen to them.

Part 3: WISE

MARIA POPOVA

SOMETIMES, THE BEST “NO” IS NO REPLY

“Why put in the effort to explain why it isn’t a fit, if they haven’t done the homework to determine if it is a fit?” Maria could spend all day replying to bad pitches with polite declines.

‘Those who work much, do not work hard.

“When Kurt Vonnegut wrote ‘Write to please just one person,’ what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself…. The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it

Book recommendations:

  • “The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long”
  • “How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love”
  • “9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings”
  • Anything about Alan Watts: “Alan Watts has changed my life. I’ve written about him quite a bit.

JOCKO WILLINK

Freeform days might seem idyllic, but they are paralyzing due to continual paradox of choice (e.g., “What should I do now?”) and decision fatigue (e.g., “What should I have for breakfast?

“You can’t blame your boss for not giving you the support you need. Plenty of people will say, ‘It’s my boss’s fault.’ No, it’s actually your fault because you haven’t educated him, you haven’t influenced him, you haven’t explained to him in a manner he understands why you need this support that you need. That’s extreme ownership. Own it all.

MARC GOODMAN

Book recommendation: Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable

SHAY CARL

HOW SHAY CURRENTLY SHOOTS VIDEO

Canon PowerShot G7 X camera

It’s about the relationship you build, not the production quality. The effects of “acting” more upbeat seemed to last at least 2 to 3 hours.

KEVIN KELLY

Cooking everything using a Kelly Kettle. This is a camping device that can generate heat from nearly anything found in your backyard or on a roadside (e.g., twigs, leaves, paper)

Fasting, consuming nothing but water.

Oddly, you might observe that you are happier after this experiment in bare-bones simplicity. I often find this to be the case. Once you’ve realized—and it requires a monthly or quarterly reminder—how independent your well-being is from having an excess of money, it becomes easier to take “risks” and say “no” to things that seem too lucrative to pass up. There is more freedom to be gained from practicing poverty than chasing wealth. Suffer a little regularly and you often cease to suffer.

WHITNEY CUMMINGS

My trauma therapist said every time you meet someone, just in your head say, ‘I love you’ before you have a conversation with them, and that conversation is going to go a lot better.

“Happiness is wanting what you have.”

BRYAN CALLEN

“The difference between the people you admire and everybody else [is that the former are] the people who read.”

Book recommendation: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

ALAIN DE BOTTON

Favorite documentary The Up series.

Planshopping. That is, deferring committing to any one plan for an evening until you know what all your options are, and then picking the one that’s most likely to be fun/advance your career/have the most girls at it—in other words, treating people like menu options or products in a catalog.

When you’re not drinking, you can see drunkenness more clearly than those actually experiencing it.

I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since you can always make more money. And I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth is to spend it with people I love.

CAL FUSSMAN

Book recommendations:

  • Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

PAULO COELHO

What are the most common mistakes or weaknesses of first-time novelists? “Keep it simple. Trust your reader. He or she has a lot of imagination. Don’t try to describe things. Give a hint, and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination.

  • Write about a time when you realized you were mistaken.
  • Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.
  • Write about a time you were inappropriately dressed for the occasion.
  • Write about something you lost that you’ll never get back.
  • Write about a time when you knew you’d done the right thing.
  • Write about something you don’t remember.
  • Write about your darkest teacher.
  • Write about a memory of a physical injury.
  • Write about when you knew it was over.
  • Write about being loved.
  • Write about what you were really thinking.
  • Write about how you found your way back.
  • Write about the kindness of strangers.
  • Write about why you could not do it.
  • Write about why you did.

AMANDA PALMER

Book recommendation: Dropping Ashes on the Buddha. It’s by Zen Master Seung Sahn.

ERIC WEINSTEIN

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”—Mark Twain.

SETH ROGEN & EVAN GOLDBERG

8 TACTICS FOR DEALING WITH HATERS

  1. It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it and treat it as math.
  3. When in doubt, starve it of oxygen.
  4. If you respond, don’t over-apologize. Some version of “I see you” will diffuse at least 80% of people who appear to be haters or would-be haters.
  5. You can’t reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into.
  6. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You’ll avoid the tough decisions, and you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted.”—Colin Powell
  7. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”—Epictetus
  8. “Living well is the best revenge.”—George Herbert

NAVAL RAVIKANT

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.

“Free education is abundant, all over the Internet. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.

“You get paid for being right first, and to be first, you can’t wait for consensus.

GLENN BECK

People are starving for something authentic. They’ll accept you, warts and all, if that’s who you really are.

TARA BRACH

Radical Acceptance

…actively recognizing anger and other types of what we consider “negative” emotions. Rather than trying to suppress something or swat it away, we say to the emotion/ourselves, “I see you.” This counterintuitively helps to dissolve or resolve the issue.

MIKE BIRBIGLIA

…whenever we meet someone who we know doesn’t care about meeting us, my wife and I always try and come up with a trick question that throws them off. They kind of have to answer, or have to think about it.

THE JAR OF AWESOME

Anytime something really cool happens in a day, something that made me excited or joyful, doctor’s orders are to write it down on a slip of paper and put it in this mason jar. When something great happens, you think you’ll remember it 3 months later, but you won’t. The Jar of Awesome creates a record of great things that actually happened, all of which are easy to forget if you’re depressed or seeing the world through gray-colored glasses. I tend to celebrate very briefly, if at all, so this pays dividends for weeks, months, or years.

STEPHEN J. DUBNER

What’s the worst advice you hear often? “‘Write what you know.’ Why would I want to write about what little I know? Don’t I want to use writing to learn more?

JOSH WAITZKIN

Josh has no social media, does no interviews (except my podcast, for which he often says to me, “You fuck!”), and avoids nearly all meetings and phone calls. He minimizes input to maximize output, much like Rick Rubin. Josh says: “I cultivate empty space as a way of life for the creative process.

…when Josh gave me a beginner’s tutorial on chess, he didn’t start with opening moves. Memorizing openings is natural, and nearly everyone does it, but Josh likens it to stealing the test answers from a teacher. You’re not learning principles or strategies—you’re merely learning a few tricks that will help you beat your novice friends. Instead, Josh took me in reverse, just as his first teacher, Bruce Pandolfini, did with him. The board was empty, except for three pieces in an endgame scenario: king and pawn against king. Through the micro, positions of reduced complexity, he was able to focus me on the macro: principles like the power of empty space, opposition, and setting an opponent up for zugzwang (a situation where any move he makes will destroy his position). By limiting me to a few simple pieces, he hoped I would learn something limitless: high-level concepts I could apply anytime against anyone.

Whereas most competitors are secretive about their competition prep, Marcelo routinely records and uploads his sparring sessions, his exact training for major events. Josh explains the rationale: “[Marcelo] was visually showing these competitors what he was about to use against them at 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks [away from competition], and his attitude about this was just completely unique: ‘If you’re studying my game, you’re entering my game, and I’ll be better at it than you.’” TF: I often share exact under-the-hood details of how I’ve built the podcast, put together Kickstarter campaigns, etc. I do this because of two core beliefs.

Belief #1—It’s rarely a zero-sum game (if someone wins, someone else must lose), and the more I help people with details, the more detailed help I receive.

Belief #2—If it is competitive, I’m simply offering people the details of my game. My attention to detail will scare off half of the people who would have tried; 40% will try it and be worse than me; 10% will try it and be better than me, but … see Belief #1. That 10% will often reach out to teach me what they’ve learned, as they’re grateful for my own transparency.

“One of the biggest mistakes that I observed in the first year of Jack’s life was parents who have unproductive language around weather being good or bad. Whenever it was raining, you’d hear moms, babysitters, dads say, ‘It’s bad weather. We can’t go out,’ or if it wasn’t, ‘It’s good weather. We can go out.’ That means that, somehow, we’re externally reliant on conditions being perfect in order to be able to go out and have a good time. So, Jack and I never missed a single storm, rain or snow, to go outside and romp in it. Maybe we missed one when he was sick. We’ve developed this language around how beautiful it is. Now, whenever it’s a rainy day, Jack says, ‘Look, Dada, it’s such a beautiful rainy day,’ and we go out and we play in it. I wanted him to have this internal locus of control—to not be reliant on external conditions being just so.”

JON FAVREAU

  1. To get huge, good things done, you need to be okay with letting the small, bad things happen.
  2. People’s IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.

Most media rightly don’t give a rat’s ass about book launches. They care about stories, not announcements,

JAMIE FOXX

It’s never been easier to be a “creator,” and it’s never been harder to stand out. Good isn’t good enough.

BRYAN JOHNSON

“What can you do that will be remembered in 200 to 400 years?

BRIAN KOPPELMAN

“Is that a dream or a goal?” If it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t real.

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

Robert takes copious notes. He sets an alarm for midnight every night to input the day’s notes into a Word document. He dates everything and stores them by year, so he can find whatever he might want later:

I would go back and review the journals and realize how many life-changing things happened within a weekend. Things that you thought were spread out over 2 years were actually Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and that Monday. So many occurrences happened in chunks that could blow you away, things that kind of define you…. “For anyone who is a parent, it’s a must. It’s a must because your children—and you—forget everything. Within a few years, they’ll forget things that you think they should remember for the rest of their lives. They’ll only remember it if it’s reinforced.

MY RAPID-FIRE QUESTIONS

  • When you think of the word “successful,” who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
  • What is something you believe that other people think is insane?
  • What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift?
  • What is your favorite documentary or movie?
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last 6 months?
  • What are your morning rituals? What do the first 60 minutes of your day look like?
  • What obsessions do you explore on the evenings or weekends?
  • What topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a TED talk on something outside of your main area of expertise?
  • What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy, or other resource. How did you decide to make the investment?
  • Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?
  • What is the worst advice you see or hear being dispensed in your world?
  • If you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say?
  • What advice would you give to your 20-, 25-, or 30-year-old self? And please place where you were at the time, and what you were doing.
  • How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Or, do you have a favorite failure of yours?
  • What is something really weird or unsettling that happens to you on a regular basis?
  • What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? Why?
  • What do you believe is true, even though you can’t prove it?
  • Any ask or request for my audience? Last parting words?

THE MOST-GIFTED AND RECOMMENDED BOOKS OF ALL GUESTS

  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (5 mentions)
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (4)
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (4)
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (4)
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (4)
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (4)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (3)
  • Influence by Robert Cialdini (3)
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (3)
  • Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom (3)
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman (3)
  • The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss (3)
  • The Bible (3)
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (3)
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (3)
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore (3)
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters (3)

Your Thoughts?

Have you read this book? What were your favourite parts? Are you going to read it thanks to this summary? Have your say in the comments below.

10 Techniques To Improve Your Ability To Remember Peoples Names

Source: https://xkcd.com/302/

I’m envious of people with photographic memories. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to remember peoples names effortlessly!

But it doesn’t come naturally to me.

However, I do have a reputation for remembering peoples names.

What you don’t know is how hard I work at it.

Why do I work so hard?

2 reasons.

  1. First, because it’s so important! A persons name is the “sweetest sound in the world to them, in any language” (Dale Carnegie).
  2. Second, because I like people remembering my name. And the first step to achieve that is to remember their name first.

Over the years I’ve picked up a range of techniques from a number of books, articles, conversations that I’ve used to improve my ability to remember names.

That’s what I’m sharing with you today.

What you need to do is find a combination of a handful of techniques that suit you in particular.

The combination I use might be different to the combination you use because our brains are wired a little differently.

But first, here are 3 rules you need to agree to:

3 Rules That Will Make You Better At Remembering Peoples Names

Rule #1: Stop telling people that you are bad at remembering names

Is this something you do?

Eliminating this negative self-talk is the first step.

Everytime you say the sentence “I’m so bad at remembering names” to yourself, or out loud as an apology, you are reinforcing that perception of yourself and preventing yourself from improving.

That ends today.

I want you to promise me you won’t say that sentence again.

Read this out loud:

“I will not tell people, or myself, that I’m bad at remembering names again”.

Good.

From now on use this sentence instead: “I’m getting better at remembering peoples names”.

After a few days of using this technique and the ones below, you can then switch to this sentence:

“I am good at remembering people’s names”.

Done? Good.

Rule #2: Decide to make an effort to remember peoples names

Let’s be honest, you’ve been a bit lazy until now.

You’ve blamed your “bad memory” and haven’t really applied yourself, have you?

That changes today too.

Make this commitment with me:

From now on, just before you walk into a room of new people you are about to meet, say this to yourself:

“I will make my best effort to remember names of the people I meet”.

Done? Good.

Rule #3: Concentrate

If you are distracted or if you aren’t paying attention, you won’t register the person’s name so you that will make it hard to remember.

Concentrate on paying attention to the person’s name when you first hear it.

Say this with me:

“I’m going to concentrate because remembering people’s names is important and valuable”

Done? Good.

Next, here are the 10 ways to memorise a persons name.

10 Ways To Memorise A Persons Name

(Hint: Repetition is a key part).

You’ve just walked into a room.

There is someone you haven’t met before. Yay!

You walk up to them and hold out your hand.

You say “Hi, I’m your_name, what’s your name?”

Here are 10 ways to burn their name into your memory:

#1. Ask them to repeat their name immediately

  • They say “John.”
  • You say “John?”
  • They nod and say “John, yes.”
  • You say “John!”
  • They say “Yes!”

#2. Ask them to spell their name if it’s tricky

  • Ask them to repeat it if it’s tricky, or in another language until you get the pronunciation perfect
  • They won’t mind, they like helping people get it right, they are proud that their name is unusual

#3. Use their name immediately with your first question

  • “So what’s your story John?” is how I start every conversation

#4. As they speak, repeat their name silently to yourself

  • Tag their name onto everything they are telling you (not out loud): “Is that right John?”, “Interesting John”, “You live in this city John”…

#5. Use their name occasionally in the conversation (without overdoing it)

  • Every time you do, their mind will light up like a Christmas tree (one day I’ll hire an MRI scanner and prove it to you)
  • You become very important to them because they feel important and valuable
  • They become determined to remember your name and they value you too

#6. If you suddenly forget their name half-way through the conversation speak up immediately

  • Sure, it’s a little bit embarrassing, but it’s perfectly fine to ask
  • “I’m sorry, your name has just popped out of my head, what is it again?”

#7. If you forget their name again, then ask for their full-name

  • That’s a sneaky way to ask them without looking forgetful
  • This way, you are asking for their surname, but you get to hear their first name as a bonus. I use this trick all the time 🙂

#8. Do you want to keep in contact with them?

  • Awww you made a new friend, I’m so proud of you!
  • If you’ve forgotten their name again, ask them to type their details into your phone (another trick!)
  • If you do remember, input their contact details into your phone yourself
  • Next, send them a text message with your name in it
  • That gives you a timestamp so if you forget their name later, you can look through your txt’s for that day and see their name
  • If you don’t save their contact details into your phone, at least write down their name into the notes app on your phone or into your notebook

#9. Use their name as you say goodbye

  • “Great to meet you John!”

#10. When you get back to your desk, connect with them on LinkedIn and Facebook

  • Searching for them gets you to use their name again and seeing their profile photo associates their name with their face

Beware Of Asking For Their Business Card As A Shortcut

Human brains are lazy.

Did you know your brain uses 20% of your bodies energy?

Your brain is always looking for ways to conserve energy.

  • With a business card your brain will not work so hard to remember their name
  • Your brain will say to you “don’t worry about it, we can just look at the card later!”
  • But at that moment in the future when you need the card, it will be miles away in a drawer

Avoid the most common mistake: Don’t give out your business card without taking one back

  • If you make this mistake they will have your contact details in their pocket but you’ll have nothing!
  • Most often they won’t take any action with the card so you won’t hear from them again and you’ve lost your chance to keep in touch

Having said that, taking their business card can be useful because if you are about to bump into them at the same venue later, you can fish it out of your pocket and remind yourself of their name.

What About Meeting People One-After-Another In Rapid-Fire?

The good news is that expectations are much lower, no-one expects you to remember their name if they are just one of many people that you are meeting at once.

You might get a chance to meet several of them one-on-one later on, so in those cases you can just start the process above as normal.

A sit down meeting is easier. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Once you’ve met everyone, take your seat and write down as many of the names as you can remember
  2. During the meeting, people often use each others names, so write down the news ones as you hear them
  3. If you’re lucky, the meeting starts with introductions, so that’s your chance to write everybodies name down
  4. I often draw the shape of the table and write the name of everyone in order from left to right
  5. As each person talks during the meeting, say their name to yourself like in tip #4 above

If I’m running the meeting I like to amaze everyone (and challenge myself) by saying thank you to everyone at the meeting from left to right saying everyone’s name (only possible because I’ve been working so hard on their names the whole way through the meeting).

I might pause on 1 person but they always come to the rescue by saying their name, but it’s pretty impressive and no-one at the meeting can forget my name after that stunt (which is 1 of my objectives in the first place).

A Technique That Has Never Worked For Me: Name Association

That’s when you look at their face and think about who they remind you of, like a famous actor, and you try and match their name with the famous actor somehow. Or they might have arched eyebrows and their name is Archie so you mash those together in your head.

I’ve tried this technique a few times but it doesn’t work for me.

It uses too much processing power when I’m trying to listen to what they are saying to me, and the associations just don’t seem to stick for me.

Your Thoughts?

How did you find this list? Useful? Any tips missing that you use? Have your say in the comments section below.

Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman

I absolutely loved this book.

I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading it.

My Feynman was so full of mischief and curiosity about the world.

He saw the world as a series of puzzles and he felt driven to solving them.

When he became curious about something or wanted to learn about something, or how to do something, he dove straight in and became an expert via experimentation.

This book was recommended several times inside a collection of interview transcripts with many of the worlds greatest minds. It just kept popping up again and again.

It’s not normally a book I would choose. It’s a collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman who was born in 1918 and died in 1988.

I found this list of about 200 Feynman stories in the book useful for finding my 11 favourites.

My 11 favourite Feynman stories

From “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character” by Richard P. Feynman:

  1. Science Lab: He built a science lab at home (11 years old) to work out how electricity and radios worked
  2. Safe-Cracking: He enjoyed safe-cracking. He loved to open the locked filing cabinets full of nuclear bomb secrets
  3. Japan: In preparation for a trip to Japan he was advised to learn some Japanese by the tour leader, which he did, but the tour leader didn’t even bother. He refused to stay in a Western Hotel because he wanted an authentic Japanese experience
  4. Samba: He learnt how to play samba drums and became good enough to perform in a street parade
  5. Drawing: He learned how to draw portraits by taking classes and even sold a few pieces
  6. Brazilian University: He was a guest lecturer in Brazil and discovered that everyone was learning physics by rote instead of truly understanding. If they wanted to develop leading physics scientists, this was not the right path, and he told the university such during his final speed. He was taken seriously. He doubted his own conclusion because he did find 2 gifted students, but during his speech, both of these students revealed that they were from other countries
  7. Text Books: He was asked to review dozens of text books for high schools and read them all in detail (unlike any of the others on the review panel) and supported his approvals/disapproval’s with his detailed notes
  8. Ants: He spent hours and hours studying how ants leave trails and experimenting with how to move them around on bridges of paper without them noticing
  9. Understanding: He became quite famous for explaining complex theories (and anything really) because of how deeply he understood them himself, and his method of coming up with examples in his head of how things worked
  10. Smell: Discovered that human smell can be almost as good as a bloodhound’s by sniffing books and bottles that were recently handled
  11. Atomic Bomb: Played a role in building the first atomic bomb

And here are just 4 passages I highlighted:

Page: 120
“The trouble with playing a trick on a highly intelligent man like Mr. Teller is that the time it takes him to figure out from the moment that he sees there is something wrong till he understands exactly what happened is too damn small to give you any pleasure!”

Page: 295
“This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the length of the Emperor of China’s nose? To find out, you go all over the country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China’s nose is, and you average it. And that would be very “accurate” because you averaged so many people. But it’s no way to find anything out; when you have a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it, you don’t improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.”

Page: 298
I couldn’t claim that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys—but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!

Page: 310
“Oh. Well, nobody knows anything about that, so I guess we can’t talk about it.” “On the contrary,” I answered. “It’s because somebody knows something about it that we can’t talk about physics. It’s the things that nobody knows anything about that we can discuss. We can talk about the weather; we can talk about social problems; we can talk about psychology; we can talk about international finance—gold transfers we can’t talk about, because those are understood—so it’s the subject that nobody knows anything about that we can all talk about!”

If you have an interest in science at all, or you are curious by nature, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Find it on Amazon: “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character